Monday, March 31, 2008

Dancing Queen: Amuse-Biatch Salutes La Phrase Juste

Possums, when you're right, you're right, and as far as Dale Talde's terpsichorean abilities are concerned, no one has ever been more right than Amuse-Biatch commenter and resident dance critic, Hughman. To wit, "[I]n the opening credits he dances like a drunk straight girl who has her purse sitting on the dancefloor in front of her."

Q.E.D., possums, Q.E.D.

Amuse-Biatch Heterosexual Monday: Padma Lakshmi Shares Her Recipe for Pot, Er, Rump Roast

Friday, March 28, 2008

Short, Baby-Faced Asian Feels Need to Compensate for Self-Hatred by Citing Fear of Cannibalism, Becoming Raging Asshole, Doing Douchey Dance Moves

Poor, poor, poor Dale Talde.

You see, possums, he feels that life, unfair bitch that she is, has saddled him with many disadvantages: "I'm Asian, not the tallest dude in the world and I look like I'm 12."

Add to that the fact that, as Miss XaXa once put it, Dale suffers from "a case of gayface so pronounced that it might as well appear in a medical textbook," and you really have to pity the poor chap. You might even begin to understand the whiff of self-hatred.

So how does he compensate?

Well, look at the testimonials:

"I work w/Dale from Buddakan and he is one of the the rudest, most evil people I have ever worked w/. To date, 4 servers have quit b/c of him, and he has made countless others break down in tears...."

"Dale is the definition of brilliant talent who's totally nuts. I have never worked w a more temperamental chef, and finally had enough of his moods that I walked out mid-shift. Anyone know why brilliance in the restaurant world is so often coupled with crazy and mean?"

He himself says, "I have no off button."

And yet, we must confess ourselves a little disappointed. All we've seen are the gayer-than-gay surly lip-pursings and belt-buckle grabs that would get him "read" or laid, depending on the kind of gay bar it is, and, of course, the douchier-than-douchey dance moves during the opening credits of Top Chef, which, if there is a God, Dale will never live down.

Well, it's true that there have also been a few bleeps, and a little garnishing of bear droppings with pecorino and blame. But that's not much to go on.

Would the self-hating, overcompensating, gayfaced, raging asshole please step forward?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Amuse-Biatch Feigns Shock and Surprise as Ryan Scott Is Caught Trying to Toss Rick Bayless’ Waldorf Salad

From the Bravo interview with guest judge Rick Bayless:

“I chose not to know anything about the chefs beforehand because I wanted to go in with a completely clean slate, but Ryan [Scott] had worked in our kitchen at one time and I sort of recognized him, but when he was presenting his dish to me in the Quickfire Challenge he brought up the fact that he’d worked in our kitchen for a day or two, and he did it in a total brown-nosey way, and I was so taken aback because then I remembered him and I remembered that I didn’t really care for him. That was the worst thing he could have done, and he thought it was going to be a really positive thing. Immediately I remembered him and the swagger with which he walked through the kitchen, and that doesn’t go over very well in our kitchen. If he’d just kept his mouth shut, I wouldn’t have put two and two together. I might have later, but I wouldn’t have done it by the time the challenge was over.”

Moctezuma’s Revenge: Limp Asshat Gets the Hopfinger

Possums, we feel both a migraine and a rant coming on, but for the time being we will limit ourselves to contrasting Erik Hopfinger’s illogical, condescending, paternalistic, patronizing, and quasi-racist statement (which we will break down later, have no fear) with excerpts from Richard Condon’s (yes, as in The Manchurian Candidate and Prizzi’s Honor) The Mexican Stove, a cookbook published in 1973 (just a year after Diana Kennedy’s seminal The Cuisines of Mexico), and which has one of the greatest subtitles of any culinary book, “Sensual and Evocative Notes on the World’s Oldest Cuisine Together with Matchless Methods for Cooking and Eating Such Timelessness and Including the Oldest Surviving Evolved Recipe for Cooked Food of Any Cooking System of Any of the Ancient Civilizations of the World and the Greatest All-Purpose Sauce in History.”

Erik Hopfinger:

“Mexican food is about the people, and it’s about the streets, and it’s a soulful kind of a thing, and to put fine dining in it, it just, it just kind of bugs me….I don’t think fine dining and Mexican go together, so [Rick Bayless] can go screw himself.”

Richard Condon:

“…in the instance of the most exalted food ever to appear in the Western Hemisphere, the food whose raw materials became the parents of all European cooking, it becomes evident, when the glorious plunge is taken, that to cook and eat Mexican food is to celebrate sensuality in every great chamber of this textured, perfumed, delicious, beautiful and memorable gastronomic antiquity.

Mexican food is an aphrodisiac which excites the passion for living. It courts, seduces, ravishes, then cherishes all five senses (as well as the sense of most worthy accomplishment) by treating each as if it existed alone, as if all satisfaction were dependent upon this one sense, while it orchestrates all five into complex permutations of sensation….

In terms of fuel into energy, chemicals, lubricants, and stimulants, Mexican food is incomparable because it is lighter, more natural, less fatty, and least 11° warmer inside. Furthermore, as a producer of joy and well-being only Chinese cuisine can surpass it and only the French can equal it….

[E]ach dish prepared under Mexican food systems is multileveled and richly dimensional. It is thermally rich. It is scented. Its grasp of glossal tactility is uncanny and exciting as it composes dishes of food to relate the textures of the rough, the slippery, the chewy, and the unctuous simultaneously while it contrasts the hot, the bland, and the piquant with sweet, sour, and salt tastes and as it relates the readily combined flavors of meat, fruit, and vegetables with an astonishing range of sauces. However, because it is high cooking, it takes a considerable amount of time to prepare….

There are yahoos who would disagree that there are only three basic, wholly developed systems of cooking in the world: the Indian/Chinese, the Mexican, and the French, and that all other cooking systems evolved from these or are dependent on these….

Then what is a ‘cuisine’? If a cannibal boils a missionary and his wife, that is not cuisine. But if he adds a touch of oregano and two onions, he has made step one.”

Monday, March 24, 2008

Losing Gorilla Goes Bananas, Throws Feces

It's true, possums, that, given her diminutive size, Valerie Bolon is more spider monkey than gorilla, but we certainly can't blame her for throwing feces. To go from being in the top three in the Quickfire Challenge to being ousted in a diabolical plot straight out of Heathers or Mean Girls--she was done wrong!

Take a look at what she told our pals at Grub Street:

You seemed unhappy when Antonia [Lofaso] said she hypothetically would hire Stephanie over you based on your dishes, even though she hadn’t tasted yours.
It was completely unfair. At the event, one of the first things she said to me when our time was over was, “I didn’t get a chance to taste your dish.” She literally said those words. I think she just got along with Stephanie better. It was a personal thing. She liked Stephanie better, so she said she would have picked her dish. I was definitely not happy about that at all.

Why did you make the blinis in advance?
That wasn’t even my idea, initially. It was Antonia’s. And it was her recipe, in fact. She said, “I’ve got this great recipe for these blinis.” I felt like I got thrown under the bus for it.

So it was a team decision?
Not at one point did we stop and say, “Wait, maybe this isn’t such a good idea. Wait, what are we doing? Maybe this isn’t going to hold up.” Watching the show last night, I felt like, maybe [Antonia] did that on purpose. But then again, I should have realized that that wasn’t such a good idea.

So, let's see. It was Antonia's idea, Antonia's recipe, and Antonia intentionally let her continue with the bad idea. Is it us, or does that distinctly sound like "Bitch set me up"?

Continuing with the feces-throwing, Valerie told our pal Sabrina at YumSugar that she was joining the ABA--Anybody But Antonia:

YS: Who do you think could win the season? Are you rooting for anyone in particular?
VB: Any of those people can do it, but I'm rooting for Stephanie, she's one of my closest friends. It would be nice to have a female win it this year. Although I don't want Antonia — everyone else but her.

YS: You don't want Antonia to win because of the blinis?
VB: Well, we didn't get on so well. Sometimes you just don't mesh well. I consider myself to be pretty personable and get along with almost everyone. But hearing some of the things she had to say about me were just, wow. We didn't hit it off that well and I felt like she sold me down the river.

Meow! So Antonia came between Valerie and one of her closest friends, and plotted and then got rid of her with mispronounced blinis? And to make it worse, Antonia was just as guilty of mispronouncing "blini" and also made a lamb dish for a vegetarian animal and didn't get called out on it by the judges? So unfair! We can't wait for the reunion show. Antonia had better wear shin guards.

Amuse-Biatch Heterosexual Monday: Padma Lakshmi Pops Her Cork, Demonstrates How to Make a Bellini

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sacré Bleu Cheese!: Bravo Washes Mouth Out with Soap

Well, possums, what a difference a week and a little soap make! It appears that Bravo’s editors have tempered the show’s sheer cussedness. This week’s episode was entirely devoid of maternal copulators, and overall profanity use was down 38.8%.

The biggest surprise of all was Andrew D’Ambrosi, whose profanity use was down a whopping 83.3%. Indeed—whether as a result of better medication (Miss Xaxa’s theory is that big-bad-biker-pussy(cat)-cum-“soul chef” Erik Hopfinger either is or should be sharing his meds with Andrew) or editorial “soap”—it was rather a nice touch to have Andrew turn aside after his disqualification during the Quickfire Challenge to utter the simple yet telling, “Poo.” And last week’s number-two curser, Dale Talde, had a mouth that was 33.3% cleaner. Come on, Bravo, it’s time to bring on Orbit gum as a sponsor.

The biggest surprise of the week was the rise of the dirty girls’ club. Last week, the women made up only 22% of the cursers, but this week, 71% of the cursers had two X chromosomes. Defying the overall downward trend, Stephanie Izard was the week’s biggest curser, with a 40% increase in the use of profanity. Well done, possum!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Democracy at Work: America (or at Least the America Comprised of Bravo's Homosexual and/or Female Viewers) Speaks, Says "Woof!" to Tom Colicchio

Oh possums, this would make Alexis de Tocqueville so very, very proud.

In a year when the voice of the American people is being listened to as never before, Bravo has listened harder and longer, er, what were we saying?

At any rate, as you all know, possums, if you have been with us for any amount of time, we have been all over this "bear" thing since we first started watching Top Chef during Season 2. So it was with no little delight that we greeted Bravo's poll of its viewers as to what animal Colicchio most resembled.

But it took our pal Lesley at Eater LA to put her finger on it: "It's almost as if the whole animal theme was conceived just so they could run this poll."

We couldn't have put it better ourselves. Still, Bravo, how about a little more attention for Manuel Treviño? There is an untapped bear in your midst.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nicole Richie's Brave Attempt at Undercover Eating Comes to an End

Last week, she was Rachel Dratch. This week, she was Nicole Richie, but mostly, Valerie Bolon was all done.

24 Prince’s Darling Nikki Nearly Capsized by Two “Cap” Disasters in a Row

Miss XaXa's Verdict: "As if the newsboy cap weren't bad and bridge-and-tunnelly enough, the mushroom caps almost did her in."

Mark Simmons Baa-ck on Top After Winning Quickfire Challenge

Put a Fork in the Road in Him, He's Done: Manuel Treviño Told to Hit the Camino

Eater has the scoop: Apparently, Manuel “Memo” Treviño has been told by his employer at the New York City restaurant Dos Caminos (two roads or paths) to pack his knives and go.

The employer's official response is the usual shitcanning boilerplate that Memo has “ pursue other opportunities.” ¡Cómo no!

Well, Memo, possum, as good as Dos Caminos may have been to you, you couldn't possibly spend the rest of your life at a crossroads. Now you won't have to wonder about the Camino not taken.

Wayward & Biatchstein Investigate: Little Mozart of the Fryolator Details Dickensian Youth of Child-Labor Law Violations

Possums, we don’t mean to hen-piccata Ryan Scott to death, but really, we can’t help ourselves, since, in trying to paint himself as a boy wonder, boy does he ever make us wonder.

After hearing Ryan boast on the season’s first episode, “I grew up in restaurants, and my parents signed the waiver for me to be able to work in restaurants….At 11, I jumped on the line with my father, and my dad fired two people after the first two or three weeks because I outcooked them at 11,” something didn’t seem quite kosher to us.

Was Ryan, er, breading the story, or had he just accused his father of blatant violations of California child-labor laws?

Part of our confusion stemmed from the fact that the soi-disant wunderkind seemed to be presenting two different narrative strands, Little Lord Fauntleroy of KQED vs. hardscrabble kitchen rat.

In the one, he is the precocious child who happens to have an almost innate love of, and talent for, cooking. To wit:

From Ryan’s Bravo bio: “Ryan zeroed in on his desire to be a chef at the early age of nine when the ‘toys’ at the top of his Christmas list included kitchen utensils, a wok and food dehydrator.”

Aw, ain’t that sweet?

From Ryan’s Bravo video: “I got into cooking from my parents. When I was younger I showed inspiration to cook, so they went ahead and ran with it, went ahead and bought me a wok and a food dehydrator when I was younger. Watching Jacques Pépin and Martin Yan was really stimulating for me as a young child.”

Aw, Lord love PBS!

From an article in The ImModesto Bee: “As a grade-schooler, he would cook his family crazy concoctions, like sloppy chili melts and herb experiments from the garden. Still, no matter the outcome, they supported him and ate his creations.”

Aw, ain’t parents grand?

But wait, at 11 isn’t one a grade-schooler? And if he was making sloppy chili melts and herb experiments at that age, just how proficient was he really when he got those two poor saps fired?

It seems a bit at odds with the impression he tries to give on the show that he grew up in restaurants.

The Bee article says only, “The journey from 10-year-old messing around in the family kitchen to one of the nation's rising culinary stars took Scott across the country. While he still was in elementary school, Scott's family briefly owned a Chubby's restaurant franchise. Then while in high school, the 1999 Los Banos High graduate began working at the Country Waffles breakfast chain.”

Mind you, no mention of being an 11-year-old line cook. And how does the fact that your family “briefly owned a Chubby’s restaurant franchise” while you were in elementary school translate into your having grown up in restaurants?

So did he, or didn’t he? Hard to tell from the available evidence. If he did, it seems plausible that it was at the Chubby’s where he became an 11-year-old line cook.

But if he did, what about the legal issues?

We called upon our dear friend, the lovely, acidic Miss Upton Sinclairol, to see if she could cut through the gnocchi-dense thicket of legal issues. She followed the trail of breadcrumbs and brought us the following information.

The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement of the California Department of Industrial Relations puts out a pamphlet explaining the basics of child-labor laws in California, and which, citing to California Labor Code section 1294.1, states in relevant part that “Minors under 16 MAY NOT be employed or permitted to work in the following occupations in…food service…: Cooking (except at soda fountains, lunch counters, snack bars, or cafeteria serving counters where such cooking is performed in plain sight of customers and is not the minor's only duty); Baking….”

That rather makes it sound like 11-year-old Ryan’s jumping on the line with his father was a prima facie violation of Section 1294.1. Indeed, pursuant to Labor Code section 1294.3(a), you have to be at least 14 years old before you are allowed to perform kitchen work and use “dishwashers, toasters, dumbwaiters, popcorn poppers, milkshake blenders, and coffee grinders.” That sounds like the sort of thing that Ryan’s parents would have “signed the waiver” for (or the job at Country Waffles that the Bee mentions).

Ryan said that his father fired two line cooks “after the first two or three weeks,” which suggests that 11-year-old Ryan was cooking on the line for at least two or three weeks. Labor Code section 1288(a) makes violation of Section 1294.1 a “Class ‘A’ violation” that is “subject to a civil penalty in an amount not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) and not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each and every violation. Willful or repeated violations shall receive higher civil penalties than those imposed for comparable nonwillful or first violations, not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000).” (emphasis added). Furthermore, Section 1288(c) states that criminal penalties may also be imposed. Ryan, Ryan, Ryan—is that really the kind of trouble you would have wanted to get your daddy into?

In the end, though, possums, we don’t have any definite answers. The current version of the law came into effect in 1993, when Ryan would have been a little older than 11. So it’s conceivable (if extremely unlikely) that prior to 1993, California, the most liberal state in the nation where labor laws are concerned, would have allowed 11-year-olds to serve as line cooks. All we have is a tantalizing question: did the man who used to head Myth Café take the restaurant’s name to heart?

Spelling Bee-atch

Possums, we want to make something clear at the outset: we are not doing this just because we are pedantic and bitchy (though we are undoubtedly both). No, we are doing this because Bravo has a responsibility, and has failed to live up to it.

Tom Colicchio (and, to a lesser extent, Rocco DiSpirito) spent much of the Judges’ Table portion of the show in a snit (and rightfully so) over the cheftestants’ ignorance of classic dishes and techniques, letting on that it was an embarrassment to be competing at that level and not know such basics (and Colicchio and other guest judges have in the past railed against putting out product that is less than perfect). Well, it is likewise an embarrassment at that level not to know how to spell the names of classic dishes or common food ingredients.

Why all this talk about “that level”? Well, because, as Colicchio himself pointed out in an Associated Press article, Top Chef, the “#1 food show on cable,” one that attracts a desirable (because educated and affluent) demographic, “has become respectable” and “is being taken seriously.” This is in large part because Top Chef is now the show where culinary demigods Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud and André Soltner consent to make appearances. Given that Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud and André Soltner “really legitimized the show,” is it really too much to expect that the show they have legitimized will at least know how to spell duck à l’orange?

And this isn’t a typo that someone made on a blog or in an email, the sort of thing that can slip in when one is writing on the fly and that is entirely forgivable. No. The season’s first episode was filmed in October. That means that Bravo had approximately five months to get the episode ready, and surely that is more than enough time to make sure that such things don’t occur.

We were not the only ones to notice, but, Bravo, the word is “pappardelle,” not “parpadelle.” (As it happens, neither Rocco DiSpirito nor Ted Allen had any problem spelling it correctly on their Bravo blogs.) Further, the word is “soppressata,” not “sopressata,” “challah” and not “halla” (what, are there no Jews at Bravo?), and “pizza à la grecque,” not “à la grec.”

This sort of stuff is easy to fix, and should be fixed. And Bravo, if you don’t do it for your viewers, at least do it for Eric Ripert. He should not have to purse his fishy lips in pain over this sort of thing.

“Little Chop of Horrors”: A Season 2 Update

Well, possums, Season 2 cheftestant Betty "Spice Rack" Fraser, the subject of perhaps our most controversial headline ever, is back in the news, and, as you can see from the photograph, the spice rack is still fully stocked. Indeed, the spice rack will be enjoying a larger cabinet, as Betty reports that she and her "restaurant partner Denise DeCarlo" have expanded their operations and opened a new restaurant, The Fountain Court. Betty has apparently also been approached by, er, boob-tube producers and is "actively pursuing a couple of show ideas."

In a discussion of sexism in the professional kitchen, Betty says, "[W]hen I was on Top Chef one of the contestants, Elia [Aboumrad], was trained in France and she told us horror stories about how some of the male chefs would try to sabotage her. All I can say is, don’t forget boys that it was your mother who fed you!"

Love the allusion to the spice rack, Betty!

And funny you should mention classically French-trained, headshaving, Britney-Spears-avant-la-lettre Mexican socialite cum chef, Elia Aboumrad, for we have just come across the most delicious and intriguing rumor.

In January of last year, in an interview she did with, Elia and interviewer Joyce Slaton had this tantalizing exchange:

Joyce Slaton: One thing I’m curious about—are you back working at Mandalay Bay now?

Elia Aboumrad: I am, yes.

JS: And what made you go from working with Joel Robuchon in Vegas to working at Mandalay Bay? It seems like, on the face of it, it seems sort of like a step backwards.

EA: It does.

JS: It does?

EA: I cannot talk about this too much, ‘cause I was not, I’m not allowed by MGM Grand.

JS: Oh wow.

EA: But I was transferred here to upscale the service and the food of Mandalay Bay and the tower and the hotel and all of room service, hospitality and the café. I can’t really say any details about it.

JS: There’s a story in there somewhere, but I hear we’re not going to get it.

So imagine, possums, how intrigued we were when we came across this story on Monday in The Vegas Eye (the story has now, mysteriously, disappeared from their website, but Google had cached it, and hence the screencap).

Fascinating, n'est-ce pas, possums? It seems that, even if it's fresh when it's thrown, fish rots from the head.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Amuse-Biatch Sings, “Ahem”

From Metromix Chicago's coverage of Monday night's Common Threads benefit at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where Padma was "tight-lipped" (certainly looks that way) and Tom was serving "smoky pork lettuce wraps" (that looks like a pretty smoky wrap to us).

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: New Zealand Has 45,000,000 Sheep

Make that 45,000,001.

The Greek Had a Word for Them

And the word was "bullshit."

Come now, Not-So-Golden Spike. Who'd have thunk you'd harbor such animosity against the lesbians, considering that, if this is any indication, you love pussies.

And by the way, Spike, possum:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Padma Lakshmi: It Took AIDS Orphans to Make Me Realize Divorcing Fat, Balding Man Old Enough to Be My Father Not Really So Bad After All

Quoth Page Six:

March 15, 2008 -- PADMA Lakshmi was so depressed about her spilt [sic] from Salman Rushdie last year, she had trouble getting out of bed in the morning and couldn't stop sobbing. But she got her priorities straight when a friend suggested she start working with AIDS charity Act Now India. "I thought to myself, 'Hey, if anything, this will keep me from just lying there crying all day,' " the ravishing "Top Chef" star tells Glamour. After touring orphanages crammed with AIDS-afflicted kids, Lakshmi thought, "OK, I don't have it worse than these people. I should just get over myself."

Amuse-Biatch Heterosexual Monday

Padma Lakshmi from the pages of this month's FHM India Magazine. (Yes, possums, the country that until recently was prosecuting Richard Gere for kissing an actress in public now has FHM. Yay! That's progress, non?)

70's Cher Bob Mackie doll.

Compare and contrast. 50 words maximum.

And the Abbie Goes to....

Possums, what with the writers’ strike this year, we felt deprived—deprived! we tell you—of our yearly dose of meaningless awards. To remedy that problem, we have decided to create our own. And so, Amuse-Biatch (i.e., “A-B”) presents the inaugural handing out of the Abbies.

Awards will be handed out on a weekly basis, and the winners will each receive a Golden Possum (well, as soon as we can catch one and spray-paint it gold).

We encourage you, possums, to submit nominations for future awards, and will post the best ones. And so, without further ado (drumroll, please).

*Best Argument for Banning Meth Use During Pregnancy and Outlawing Exposure to Hip Hop and Hispanics for White Boys in Their Formative Years: Andrew “Casa, Motherfuckers. Oh What Phatness!” D’Ambrosi

*Best Repeated Use of Editing Cut to a Black Muslim Woman to Show Just How Shocking—Shocking!—a Lesbian Relationship Is, with the Hope That Said Black Muslim Woman Will Say Something About Allah and Sodomites to Create Drama on Season’s First Episode: Bravo Editors (Sergei Eisenstein would be proud!)

*Best Use of Subliminal Advertising: The moment when, after being dressed down by the judges, Nimma Osman was shown sitting against the wall of Glad products while saying, off-camera, “There’s people that are glad that it’s over with….” Bravo, hast thou no shame?

*Best Use of Artfully Disheveled Hair by a Previously Disgraced and Overcoiffed Chef Who, Accused of Being a Little Light in His Kitchen Clogs, Seeks to Combat Rumors by Butching It Up: Rocco DiSpirito.

To which Miss XaXa said, “Seriously. It’s like he wanted to convince people with that hair that the pizza delivery had caught him in the middle of topping Padma’s deep dish. As if.

*Best Former Culinary Bad Boy Defanged by Wife and Child: Anthony Bore-dain

*Best Use of Potato-Dumpling Metaphor by Pot to Call Kettle Black: Pretty boy Rocco DiSpirito, for saying of pretty boy Ryan Scott, “It’s not just his gnocchi that were dense.” Aw snap! (Or should it be, Aw two snaps?)

To which Miss XaXa said, “Why don't you just call it the Hate-Fuck of the Week Award?”

*Best Shaggy-Haired Mentor Who Won’t Get Off a Chef’s Back (And Yes, Rocco Is Disqualified): The Yoda backpack sported by Stephanie Izard.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Variety Shows Are the Spice of Padma Lakshmi’s Life

Here for your delectation, possums, please find two clips of Domenica In, the Italian variety show for which, once upon a time, Padma Lakshmi served as co-host. We especially love the first one, in which she appears at the head of a white piano and manages to answer the phone, sing, and dance--all at the same time! After that, Top Chef must seem like a breeze. One question, though: why isn't she ever this animated on American soil? What could possibly keep her so mellow and calm?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sacré Bleu Cheese!: The Cooks and the Raw (Language)

Anthony Bourdain, Bill Buford and others write of chefs and kitchen workers as outcasts, toiling daily in a fiery furnace of profanity and ego. Though Michael Ruhlman mourns the loss of this atmosphere as the professionalization of cookery advances, to our maiden-aunt ears it nonetheless seemed very much alive during the premiere of Top Chef. 'Twas a veritable symphony of beeps.

But we clutched our smelling salts and set to work tallying and analyzing the week's profanity for your benefit, possums. We will keep a weekly count, and name an overall winner at the end of the season.

To start, it should come as no surprise that this week's winner, by a veritable Tourette torrent, is Andrew D'Ambrosi. Oy, just what is this red-nosed "kid," "cat," and "competitor" on? Then, when Padma said, "We asked you to pack up to $200 of ingredients that you cannot live without," Miss XaXa said, "Aha! Maybe he packed a little Bolivian ras el hanout?"

We know very little about these matters, but just how much could $200 possibly buy you? And what happens when it runs out?

Tune in next week to find out.

Even After Narrowly Surviving Ocular-Assassination Attempt by Ex-Husband Salman Rushdie, Padma Lakshmi Maintains Healthy Interest in the Old In-N-Out

Possums, if looks could kill, Padma Lakshmi would be a dead woman by now.

Not because she is killingly beautiful, but because she was very nearly done in by a crime passionnel committed with corneas. And by none other than ex-husband Salman Rushdie, who, in a sort of Stepford Wives twist, was already escorting Padma’s chapeau’d robotic replacement at the time of the crime.

Yes, yes, possums, replace a robot with a robot, and what difference does it make? But in this case, possums, c’est grave.

According to The New York Daily News and Radar Magazine, the attempt on Padma occurred Tuesday night. Yes, that’s right, possums—the night before the premiere of Top Chef. How operatic, n’est-ce pas? How literary even (well might Padma have asked, “Is this a dagger I see before me?”). Especially given that Padma’s focus on her career was reportedly one of the reasons for the estrangement and subsequent divorce.

So let’s see how this went down.

First, Radar, which was first on the scene:

The talk of the Soho Grand penthouse in Manhattan on Tuesday night was the palpable tension between writer Salman Rushdie and ex-wife Padma Lakshmi as the two spent a large portion of the evening mere feet from each other….

While Salman squired a mystery, fedora-clad Padmaganger around the Dior Beauty bash, the Top Chef host held court on the couch, engrossed in a conversation with Jericho star Skeet Ulrich. The duo switched seats twice with random patrons who had accidentally sat in between them, and continued chatting and laughing. Lakshmi surely caught Rushdie's dagger-like stare burning into her from across the room—she was sure to casually graze Skeet's arm often.

Now, the Daily News:

A stunning Padma Lakshmi chatted animatedly with a dapper-looking Skeet Ulrich, seemingly oblivious to ex-husband Salman Rushdie's death stare, as he stood feet from her with Sascha, a fedora clad Padma-a-like.

The bit about the fedora, other than the suspicious reoccurrence of “fedora-clad,” is particularly interesting because, as you can see, possums, Padma herself is given to wearing fedoras. How poignant, how scandalous, how twisted. Perhaps it’s more Vertigo than Stepford Wives. Padma, possum, stay away from California mission clocktowers, and if you hear pseudo-Wagnerian music playing in the background, run the other way.

Fortunately, though, Padma survived the retinal dirks. Indeed, she was well enough to “‘fess… up to her secret cravings for In-and-Out [sic] Burger. ‘I love them well done, no onions and extra pickles,’ she [said].”

Spoken like a true California girl. The pickle, after all, is essential to the In-and-Out.

Nonetheless, Miss Xaxa couldn't help but tut-tut just a bit. “Skeet Ulrich?!”

What can one say, possums? Oh, to risk death over the poor man's Johnny Depp!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chicago Gains Another Skyscraper, L.A. Gets Another Douche

Our pal Lesley of Eater LA got it straight from the ungay mouth of the 6'8", one-balled Jolly Green Giant himself: CJ Jacobson is moving to Chicago to help the very gay and two-balled Dale Levitski open up his restaurant, Town and Country.

And because L.A doesn't have enough to worry about with earthquakes, wildfires, and paparazzi, Ilan Hall is moving out here to open a tapas bar on wheels, or a "tapas truck." Forget about the historico-cultural implications of a city ruled by taco trucks, the creole food, being invaded by a tapas truck, fruit of the imperialist colonizers. Instead, ask yourselves, possums, is justice even possible in L.A. when the bacon-wrapped hot dog is illegal, but Ilan Hall's "tapas truck" might be allowed? Somebody call James Ellroy before Ilan rewrites this into L.A. Confideontial. *

*If you still remember that Ilan's dish of fideos from the romantic-dinner-in-Santa-Barbara challenge is still Padma Lakshmi's favorite Top Chef dish of all time, we urge you to step away from the Bravo and get some help.

First Reaction: Like Deep-Dish Pizza and Sex, Even When It’s Bad, It’s Still “Top Chef”

Possums, a more complete reaction and analysis will be forthcoming.

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Who Knew Chastity Bono Could Make Eggs Benedict?

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Who Knew Rachel Dratch Couldn't Cook Chicken Piccata?

Those Are the Shakes, Kid: Stephanie Izard Wins the First Elimination Challenge

So that's what happened to Hallie Kate Eisenberg. As you can see, she used to play with fine-feathered friends; now, she makes them into spring rolls.

What's Repast Is Repast, and We Shall See Her Nimma (Well, Except Perhaps on the Reunion Show)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Amuse-Biatch Shudders to Remember the Most Earth-Shattering Moment in the History of This Blog

Possums, for the past few months, we have been hiding a dark secret, a secret so traumatic that it very nearly drove us from blogging forever!!!

“Could you be more dramatic?” said Miss Xaxa.

Picture it. On account of our work—yes, possums, lilies of the field though we are, even we must toil and spin to earn our daily pain Poilâne—we were near the Los Angeles location of Tom Colicchio’s restaurant, Craft. We were in the lobby, on the cell phone, in the midst of a v. v. important call, but staring off into the distance, when all at once we saw a cloud, a host of—

Well, not daffodils. Of Top Chef, rather, for it was none other than Padma. Fucking. Lakshmi. Making straight for us.

Our mind raced and reeled. We felt like Ebiatchnezer Screwge. Was this the Ghost of Bitchmas Past or merely an undigested bit of potato?

But no, ‘twas She, clad all in black, and moving smoothly toward us like an avenging angel, a great Hindu goddess of destruction. And in that moment, the warp and woof of World Wide Web was rent and ripped, and a small frisson of the apocalypse overcame us.

“Oh, lighten up,” said Miss XaXa. “She was probably just coming back from lunch with Tom Colicchio at Craft, on her way to see a lawyer or an agent.”

But really, possums. We wondered if our rather broad brow would suddenly act like the news crawl at the bottom of the screen on CNN, broadcasting our thoughts. Did she know? Could she know? Would she know she was in the presence of half an Amuse-Biatch?

Our eyes locked but for an instant. As a creature of flesh and blood, she was more beautiful than as a pattern of pixels on a screen. Would the eyes betray us, tell her all, confess our biatchy, blogging sins? Was that the slightly resinous scent of guilt trapped in our nostrils?

“Jesus Christ!” said Miss XaXa, “Catholic much?”

But, fortunately, the only look we detected on her face was that of someone who has been recognized. Such is the price of fame. She walked past us and toward the elevator, and we were once again safe—safe to biatch, safe to blog, safe to be.

And so, possums, hey, hey, the Biatch is back.

Just in Time for Tonight's Premiere, the Flaming Finally Begins

As you may know, possums, we rather took issue with Bravo’s tagline for Top Chef, “Let the flames begin,” and not just because it was insensitive to Mrs. O’Leary’s cow and the victims of the Great Chicago Fire, but because, with nary a Gay on the show, the tagline was patently engaging in false advertising.

We told Raggaydy Andy in no uncertain terms that he’d better work, and exhorted him to “flambé, chantez.” And giving credit where credit is due, he sho’ and at long last came through.

Pressing Project Runway winner Christian Siriano into service, Andy Cohen unpacked his (rather large, perhaps overcompensatory) knife and went gay.

Click to watch the video in its entirety, but we’ll give those of you with little patience, slow computers, or scant intestinal fortitude a précis of the oh-so-precious pensées:

Siriano tells a complex story about the workings of the oil industry and politics in the Middle East, and a fat George Clooney. Sorry, possums, just a little typo there.

Having dropped “fierce” as a catchphrase, Christian tried out another worn-out old gayitude from decades past: “for days.”

Faux-lesbian Richard Blais’ fauxhawk is “last season’s ‘hawk,” but he does love Jen Biesty’s Lady-‘hawk.

Padma Lakshmi has the skin of an Italian chain restaurant much beloved by Middle Amérique for soup, salad and breadsticks for days.

The lesbian couple? “There’s gonna be, like, hot sauce everywhere.”

Uh, no disrespect to our Sapphic sistahs, but, ewwww.

Lez Is More: Amuse-Biatch Discovers Previously Unknown Fourth Lesbian Cheftestant, or Pink Triangle Becomes a Square

Possums, in the beginning, we knew there were two:

Then, our friend Dorothy (yes, as in "FOD") confirmed that there were three:

And then we heard the rat-tat-tat and the clackety-clack of Louboutins on a travertine floor. 'Twas Miss XaXa, breathlessly delivering the news that, actually, there were four:

"Uh, darling, I know you've seen The L Word, but this isn't the 'Max Factor.' That's actually Richard Blais. He's from Atlanta, he's married, to a woman, and has a child on the way."


"Je sais, je sais, darling. He's just trying to wrest the fauxhawked, sexually ambiguous, molecular gastronomy crown from Marcel Vigneron."


"And he's such a man. He's been going fauxhawk a fauxhawk with Jen "The Beast" Biesty, and of course, he thinks his is bigger and better. He even accuses her of stuffing a metaPhotoShopical sock down her 'hawk."


"Yes, you're right. No wonder he prides himself on being socially awkward."


Dicky, you’re fauxhawked: Christian Siriano just pronounced your haircut “last season’s ‘hawk,” while praising Jen Biesty’s Lady-‘hawk.

Stephanie Izard: Cutter, Cutup, or Cutting Edge?

We will find out tonight, possums.

Lisa Fernandes: Canadian. Christian Siriano Fan. Self-Proclaimed Bitch. Dirty, Dirty Girl. What's Not to Like?

Really, possums, just take a look at the testimonials:

Dale Talde: “Lisa, without a doubt…[,] had the worst fucking attitude ever. She was just negative…She'd tell people when she was gassy….”

Manuel “Memo” Treviño: “Lisa [has the worst attitude this season].”

Evangelos “Spike” Mendelsohn: “I’d have to say Lisa [has the worst attitude this season]. She’s a very angry person….[She has the worst personal hygiene.] Gotta wash that bandana, you know what I mean?”

Lesbian with an attitude. Fellows that were in the mood.

To be bitchy.

Oh, wait.

Lisa Fernandes: “I’m rude. I’m a bitch.”

Well, that would seem to settle that. So imagine our surprise when we saw what she told about the experience of being on Top Chef:

“People are like, ‘Oh, you’re on a reality TV show,’ but that’s not what it is. It’s not about finding out the gossip, or putting people in stupid situations to see who sleeps with whom and who beats who up.”

Oh, possum. Clearly, you never saw Season 2. Or Season 3. Or read this blog.

Perhaps underneath the gassy, mushroom-flinging, sweaty-bandana’d surface, she’s just a nice, idealistic Canadian girl?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Padma Lakshmi Admires Colicchio’s Technical Skills, Enjoys the Taste of His “Huevos” in the Morning; Colicchio, for His Part, Likes His Pepper Peeled

That, at least, is what we gleaned, possums, from the following exchanges in that now notorious “sandwich” interview:

What one dish do you think says the most about a chef?
Tom Colicchio: So - go ahead Padma.

Padma Lakshmi: I don’t think grilled cheese is that difficult to make nor do I think eggs are very difficult to make. But I do think the way you make eggs in the morning shows a lot about your technical skills. Tom makes really great eggs, by the way.
So what are your food pet peeves? Everyone has one. What’s the one thing that just really - you just can’t deal with on a plate?

Padma Lakshmi: Tom doesn’t like skins on bell pepper.

“Well, well,” said Miss XaXa, “she certainly knows an awful lot about Tom, doesn’t she? Which came first, the kissin’ or the eggs? And do you think she likes them runny or sunny-side up?”

“Now, now,” we tut-tutted. “Colicchio is a married man. And as for Padma, Page Six says she’s dating billionaire Adam Dell, brother of Steve Dell, as in—”

“Dude, she’s gettin’ a Dell!”


We do have questions for the photographer-semioticians at Bravo, though. Could you pack any more phallic and other symbols into that publicity still? The tie at attention is a particularly nice touch. We get it—the whirlwind that is Padma knocks Tom off his feet, ruffles his nonexistent hair, and stirs and stiffens his necktie into a 45-degree angle. And who could blame him?

Amuse-Biatch Be-‘wiched, Extremely Bothered, and Definitely Bewildered as Tom Colicchio Shares Wicked ‘Wichcraft with the Antichrist

Possums, we know just how much Tom Colicchio enjoys making sandwiches with the high-profile women of the food world, but we had no idea things had dEVOOlved to this point. This definitely takes the muffaletta. And is it as a tribute to Tom's New Jersey roots that Rachael Ray decided to dress as a Mafia wife from The Sopranos? And is it us, or is Tom looking a little thinner? Oh what a diet of "sandwiches" will do! Just ask Jared.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Amuse-Biatch Heterosexual Monday: How Much Is That Tranny in the Window?

The Importance of Not Being Earnest: A Farewell to Snark

Possums, we shall not look upon her like again. She has packed her knives and gone.

We could hardly believe our eyes when we read the
announcement: The Great Keckler, whose recaps and ceramic-knife wit were legendary, and who coined the term "cheftestant," will not be recapping the new season of Top Chef for Television Without Pity.

Mes enfants, the general has left the Top Chef field. We will soldier on, of course, but the battle simply won't be the same without General Keckler, and she will be sorely missed.

"You make it sound like she's dead," said Miss XaXa.

No, no, no. She's simply gone to a better place, that's all. Namely, Jericho, which she will continue to recap for TWOP. So get on over there to continue reading her work. And remember, though she unfortunately doesn't get royalties, every time someone uses the word "cheftestant," a sous-chef gets her toque.

Thanks for the memories, K.